Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I've been busy making prototypes, learning something new from each one I put together. Experimenting with zippers, snaps, buttons, linings. I'm not to the point where I feel I could sell these at full price. On some, the foundation fabric is fraying. I thought the felting process would stop it, but it didn't. I have to come up with a different method of sewing or adding a full lining.

I am going to be offering up these prototypes at $20.00, and thought I'd give you guys first shot. If you're interested, drop me a line at annie at maplecorners daht cahm.

1. Clutch with natural black alpaca with blue silk accents, hook and eye top closure, zippered silver gray floral lining. Measures app 4 by 10.

2. Wristlet with natural brown alpaca, and dyed reds/terra cotta/brick alpaca/wool/silk/nylon blend. Zippered red/multi southwestish lining, wood button flap closure, and measures app 5 1/2 by 7 1/2.

3. Clutch from natural black alpaca/purple silk accents, zippered silver gray floral lining, silver metal button flap closure, measures app 5 1/2 by 7 1/2.

4. Large wristlet from blues alpaca/wool/silk/nylon blend, silver button flap closure, black wool blend zippered lining, measures app 6 by 11.

5. Wristlet of natural black alpaca with blue mohair accents, silver button flap closure, zippered black wool blend lining, measures app 5 by 8.

This next one is going to my friend P who went to Texas with me. It is made from some of the "Texas Memory" colorway suggested by Rick.

On all of these, I have used buttons and fabric from my stash. This one amazes me. Look how well that matches. Oh, and the zipper on this one is from Mom.

I apologize for this commercial interruption. I really do try to keep this space separate from the business website.

A friend is being a vendor at a wool festival near the Cities Mother's Day weekend, and has offered to bring some of my stuff, since I don't think I'll make it this year. (Whine, whine) In other words, off to more experimenting/back to work.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A new pasture!

With the price of gas so high, and from pure laziness (I hate mowing!), I strung some electric rope and created a new pasture for the animals to eat. I mean, why mow using a gas powered fume spewing machine when I have these guys? The rope isn't actually connected to a fencer because I don't want to use electric fence with Mom around. They can walk right through it if they want to. They would still be fenced in, I just wanted to try to keep them from the whole yard/garden. Anyway, they may be a little happy.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Art of Alzheimer's

I found this on the kitchen counter yesterday. It makes me laugh.

My sister came over yesterday to watch Mom for a while. I used the time to clean out the chicken coop. The chickens are happy I did! It was cold and windy, but it felt good to be out doing something physical.

My nephew (5) came out and helped when I was just about done. I sent him back to the house with the one egg I collected. My sister said that he came in house, crouched down with his hand underneath him, bak baked a couple of times, handed her the egg, then went back outside. He sure does have a sense of humor.

He is very paranoid about poop. So when we walked by the poop pile (llamas and alpacas generally poop in a communal poop pile, unlike other animals which poop all over a pasture), I pointed it out to him so he could avoid it. We finished feeding the animals some hay, and started back to the house. He ran ahead, (the energy of a 5 year old!) and I could see he was headed for the large pile of composted manure, which just looks like a hill of dirt. I yelled, hey, that's poop! It was too late. He was already on it. In midstride he lifted himself up and barely touched the ground as he flew over it, making little squeeks of disgust the whole time. At that point, I wasn't sure if it was all an act to make me laugh, so I laughed inwardly so as not to hurt his feelings.

It was a good day.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Tripod art

Yesterday when the roof guys were here tarping the house, they took this off the roof. I believe it used to hold an antenna.

At first I thought, oh great, where do I take this to get rid of it. My recent visit to the Cathedral of Junk made me look at it in a different light though.

It is very sturdy, about 5 feet tall, probably adjustable although I haven't tried, has bracket feet with screw holes at the bottom which you can't see because they are covered with snow (I may be a little bitter, but really I can't complain because up north got 6-8 inches), but I could drive tent stakes through them to secure to the ground. I'm thinking I can use it in the garden, plant peas or beans or cucumbers around it, and a climbing they will go. Or maybe a tomato plant in the middle, it is strong enough to act as a tomato cage. Hmmm. Any other suggestions?

Friday, April 25, 2008


I was on the phone last night, talking with a friend, when I heard a noise outside. It sounded like something was on the deck. I looked around the living room, there were the two dogs. Hmm, what was that? I quickly turned on the outside deck light, and looked through the patio door curtain. Raccoon. It explored my deck furniture, then started climbing up the corner of the house. I tried yelling at it, but it ignored me and continued up onto the roof. I didn't really think anything of it, figuring it would find the way down when I turned out the light and quieted the dogs.

I went outside to do chores this morning, and found this when I came back to the house.

The stupid (I won't say what I actually called it.) raccoon tore off part of my roof, and created a small hole. As far as we can tell, the raccoon isn't in my attic.

Of course, it had rained off and on all night, and is expected to continue most of the week. There is some water in one of the closets where it leaked through. Aaaauurrrgh!

There is now a piece of plywood over the hole, and the whole roof is covered in tarps. I didn't want the little sucker to come back and continue the destruction.

I knew I needed a new roof, but this is ridiculous. Out of curiosity, I checked with my homeowner's insurance agent. Damages caused by wild animals are not covered.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Lollipop, Lollipop, ooh, Lolly Lolly Lolly Lollipop

Sorry, now you might have that song in your head just like I do.

Last night I did a load of Mom's laundry. As I was transferring it from the dryer to her bedroom, this fell to the floor.

A perfect lollipop flower. Mom likes to take roving that I'm using, play with it a while, and then stick it in her pocket. She must have snitched this, and had it in her pocket for safekeeping. When it went through the wash, it felted into this perfect little flower. We couldn't duplicate this if we tried! It looks like maybe it was rolled into a spiral? I don't know how she did it, but I love it. I might attach it to a piece of flat felt and frame it.

It is dark, gray, and windy here today, so getting the photo was a bit of an adventure. It was too dark in the house to get a good shot, so I took it outside to my improvised light box. It is really just the trunk of my car, but on an overcast day it works pretty good. I am essentially a lazy person, so actually making a light box is just too much for me.

Where was I? Oh yes, it is windy. The flower is just a little thing, so it kept blowing away when I was trying to take the photo. I tried letting go just before I pressed the shutter.

Nope, that didn't work. For some reason though, this photo makes me laugh.

I've been told that I am easily amused.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Art of Alzheimer's

Haven't had one of these for awhile. It may be hard to see. Off-white fabric on white countertop with white napkin mouth and canning jar rings for eyes.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Clearing Out

We have started the daunting task of cleaning out Mom's house. The house has been in the family over 75 years. My Dad took care of his Dad, and inherited the house and contents in return. My parents were children of the Depression. Nothing that might be useful was ever thrown away. You know what that means.

It is going to take forever to get through everything. It took us about 7 hours to go through one closet. One closet! We found tax returns from the 1950's, along with an absolutely scathing and defiant letter written to the IRS after an audit. Dad obviously hadn't agreed with the auditor!

We found an old wallet containing years worth of union cards. Knowing Dad, we looked through the wallet, and sure enough, found his hidden stash of $2.00 bills from 1976. We each kept one.

I brought home a bag of sewing notions. Zippers, elastic, ric rac, seam binding, that type of thing. I was looking through the bag yesterday, trying to organize it a little. Some of them were never used, but many of the zippers were carefully removed from worn out clothing. See the red zipper in a little bundle with a rubber band around it? I remember Mom's windbreaker that came from.

Then I found this. It made me cry a little, but then kind of laugh too.

It is a strip of cloth from a work shirt my Dad wore very often. Mom had cut it out for the buttons. They knew something about reduce, reuse, recycle before it became popular.

I also brought home some garlic chives from Mom's yard, and planted them in my herb garden. The girls have been laying full force again, so I just might have to snip some chives over an omelette tonight for supper.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

More Peace of Mind

A baby monitor. Why didn't I think of it, or research it, sooner?

This one has a range of up to 1000 feet. I didn't know such a thing existed. The Alaska travelling friends sent it to me. First qiviut, now a long range monitor. They spoil me.

I cried this morning as I walked the upper pasture. It reaches to the upper pasture! This means that I can be on any spot of my ten acres, and be able to hear Mom. I cannot even express what a difference that makes.

I'll never be able to thank them enough, but a little purse on a string will be headed their way.

Complete with a zipper and lining.

They were part of the Quetico trip, so Emerald Lake depicted on the front will make sense to them.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Farm Beginnings is a 10 month long course covering subjects such as low-cost sustainable farming methods, creative marketing, business-plan writing, etc. put on by the Land Stewardship Project. I have wanted to do this for several years. One year I had gone so far as to complete the application. That was the year Mom came to live with me, so those plans fizzled.

Every year the location changes, and this year it turns out that one of them is not far from my sister's place. If I could drop Mom there, attend class, and pick Mom back up, it might work. Tuition, however, is a problem.

My cousin's wife did the course several years ago, as did their son. He is now naturally raising award-winning hogs for Niman Ranch, using deep bedding and hoop houses. Even standing right next to the hoop house, there is no manure smell. If you have ever driven by, or lived near, a "conventional" hog confinement facility, you know how miraculous that is. I am lucky, and proud, to be able to buy pork from him.

During summers in high school, I lived on their farm and babysat, cooked, cleaned, helped with chores or basically whatever needed doing. Along with Great Aunt Teeter, my experiences on their farm made me want a place of my own. Now that I have it, I want to be as good a steward of the land as I can. I think it is important.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

More felt

Made more felt.

This one is gray llama mixed with some mohair, and the purple is silk. It has a velco closure across the top, and measures 8 x 7, and the matching little one is 3 x 5. The velcro on the big one catches the fiber from the coin purse, so I'll keep this one for myself. I don't like the velcro, I just happened to have it on hand. I need to get to the "big" city to find some zippers and magnetic snaps.

This one is just folded, I have to put it together. It is natural black alpaca, with purple silk. It will be 5 by 8, with a zippered closure in the lining and maybe a snap on the flap.

Here's the back. It reminds me of birch trees at night, or lightning, or spirits.

That's all I got.

Oh, I replaced my mailbox yesterday. Vandals or a bad or maybe drunk driver had smashed mine. Friends wanted me to get a large mouthed bass mailbox, but I just got your generic shiny black, red flag, rural mailbox. I bet the mailman will be happy; no more risking his hand to squeeze the mail into the smashed mailbox with sharp edges.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Opinions, please!

I've been doing more needle felting, but have turned toward more practical things. Will you help me?

Which do you like better? As a purse this way, with a zipper closure across the top? It measures about 5" (sides) by 8" (top & bottom)this way.

Or is it better this way, with a flap and maybe a button closure, or something as yet to be determined. It measures app 6 (sides) by 5 (top and bottom) this way.

Please let me know which way you like best. I like them both and can't decide.

Then there is this one. The color reminds me of the northern lights. It measures 8 1/2 (sides) by 7 1/2 (top). It closes with some yarn in a figure 8 around the buttons, like an envelope, and has 3 beaded thingies attached to the yarn.

It has a matching coin (or other small items) purse, about 3 by 5, with velcro closure all across the top.

Let's say you were wandering around an art/craft fair this summer, are these something you might expect to see, and might you be inclined to buy one? Anybody?

I apologize for this brief market research interruption.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Qiviut and other fine things

Friends of mine went to Alaska last month, and brought me some qiviut! Wowee, is it soft. Think of the softest thing you can think of, and this is softer. They also brought mohair!

ETA: For the non-fiber readers, qiviut is the soft undercoat of the Arctic Musk Ox. Mohair is the fiber from the angora goat. As opposed to angora, which is the fiber from the angora rabbit.

A funny thing happened when I took the photo. Here is the first one I took. Freckleface was already there before I set the fiber down.

Approximately 2.7 seconds after I opened the package and spread it out a little, there was Pud investigating.

Approximately 2.7 seconds after that, she had settled in.

That cat has high falutin' expectations. Apparently the handmade alpaca-stuffed cat pillows are not good enough for her, she wants qiviut and mohair. Too bad, cat! I shushed her off. I'm not giving up my qiviut!

Included in the package, but I don't know if they came from Alaska, was a knit finger puppet,

and a tin of mints.

Impeachmints. They crack me up!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Quetico Landscape

I told (warned?) you that I was going to try a landscape next.

This is the moonrise over Emerald Lake in Quetico Provincial Park, Canada's counterpart to the BWCA. We did a nine day wilderness canoe trip (Man Chain) there several years ago.

The black dot in the reflection of the moon? That is kind of a joke. It could be a loon, or a beaver aka the Mysterious Plopper, or Scone. Scone liked to swim.

Did you know that the sound of a beaver slapping his tail on the water doesn't sound like a slap on the water? It sounds like a deep, resonating kerplunk, very much like a very large rock being dropped in the water. We heard that sound one of the first nights out, and nobody knew what it was. We accused Scone of dropping rocks in the water to scare us, but he soundly denied it. It wasn't until the last day that we saw it happen, and the Mysterious Plopper was identified.

Emerald Lake really was emerald colored. See?

(Photo by Mary)

This little landscape was done by needle felting roving onto a scrap of dark gray wool fabric that I picked up at a garage sale many years ago. It measures approximately 4"by 6", as do the ones that I showed yesterday.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


My first attempt at felt art.

Here's the inspiration so you don't have to page down. Viola sororia 'Speckles', by the way.

My second attempt.

Texas Bluebonnet (Lupinus Texensis) It is also a legume!

I wet felted the green background, and the white for the violet, then needle felted the rest. I may try a landscape next, since the flowers were so successful. Bahahahaha!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Randomness, or, I have nothing interesting to say.

One day a couple of years ago, I was weeding a flower bed. I usually leave the little violas/violets/johnny jump-ups in the yard, but pull them from the flower bed. Well, this particular flower bed, anyway.

This is what they normally look like around here.

So there I was, weeding away. Oh look, another johnny jump-up. I reached to grab it, and stopped just in time.

Isn't it gorgeous? I've never seen one like this before. There are two plants of it. It came back and bloomed last year, and I'm looking forward to seeing it again this year. Cinn's colorway reminded me.

Another sign of spring.

The other day, I was driving down a county road, minding my own business, when all of a sudden I had to swerve to avoid hitting a salamander. (Meanwhile, the salamander wrote on his blog, there I was, crossing the road, minding my own business, making good time, when all of a sudden, I almost got hit by a truck!) I stopped and helped it across. The world needs more salamanders. (I also (safely) swerve for wooly bear caterpillars, and worms when it is raining. I cringe and apologize when I can't.)

I know that isn't a salamander in the photo. It was the most salamander-like thing I had a photo of.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Color Requests

The other day I said I was going to do some dyeing, and took requests. Here are the results.

Olga requested lime or spring green. She is very sick of winter, and I understand completely!

Cinn requested Iris purple, Daffodil yellow, and Easter Lily white. I got the purple and the yellow, but they both bled a bit and obliterated the part I had left natural white. Oops.

Rick requested Bluebonnet blue, Huisache yellow and a hint of Dove gray. All memories from the Texas trip. I wound up with a light and dark version of that one.

I experimented with the cold pour technique for these. I think I have more success with the hot pour. It was fun to experiment anyway. I better not give up my day job for custom dyeing, though!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

South Austin Walk

One day my friend and I walked around the neighborhood where we were staying. I loved the yard art/cairns that were constructed in many yards.

I love how the three blades of grass stick up over the left eye, looking like a wildly tufted eyebrow.

Maybe I like them so much because it is something Mom would do. Last night, we were eating supper which included mixed vegetables. Mom laughed, and then showed me her plate. There were two peas next to each other, with a kernel of corn balanced on top. A vegetable cairn! I don't think she had made it, but I thought it was funny that she noticed it, laughed, and pointed it out to me.

Two doors down from where we were staying was a pile of interesting rocks, with a sign saying free rocks. Yes, I chose two small ones to bring back with me. Is it any wonder my luggage had the little note saying it had been searched.

The two white rocks in the center are the ones I brought back, the others have been gathered from my fields. I like the mix of Texas and Minnesota.